Oatman has a lot going for it, considering its business district is one short block. Descendants of burros used in the mining industry until World War II and then set free roam the street begging tourists for handouts. Visitors can peek into the room at the Oatman Hotel that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed in on their honeymoon. And the main road that runs through the town is part of Historic Route 66.
Only about a 45-minute drive from Laughlin, Nevada, Oatman is a popular day-trip for visitors to the casino town. We’ve visited Oatman a few times over the years. On our most recent visit, we were disappointed that we didn’t see any burros at first. Until the gunshot.
A gunfight takes place in Oatman twice a day. It’s a completely touristy thing, but donations collected afterward go to a good cause, the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital transportation fund. The “bank robber” explained that the gunshot is like a dinner bell to the burros. They know the gunfight attracts a crowd of visitors anxious to feed them.
The Oatman Hotel
The Oatman Hotel, built in 1905, no longer operates as a hotel, but rather a museum, gift shop and restaurant. After peeking into the upstairs Gable-Lombard honeymoon suite, we stayed for lunch in the Oatman Hotel Restaurant & Saloon, where the walls are filled with dollar bills, a tradition that was started years ago.
Mine and Gift Shops
We also stepped inside a mine, there for tourists to see what the inside of a mine shaft looks like. The area is filled with old mines, and the public is warned not to enter them, as beams are weak and can cave in at any time. Gold has been mined on and off in the surrounding hills since 1915. Right now it is “on” again.
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The rest of the town consists mainly of gift shops with lots of Route 66 memorabilia.
Heading eastward on Route 66 outside of Oatman, the drive through Sitgreaves Pass, the highest elevation on Route 66 at 3550 feet above sea level, can be nerve wracking, with twists, turns and steep drop-offs. However, the views from the road are breathtakingly stunning.
If you go
Whether you’re driving Route 66 or visiting a nearby area, Oatman is worth a stop. Touristy, yes, but definitely a place unlike anywhere else you’re likely to see in the United States.
Oatman is located in northwest Arizona, about 45 minutes southeast of Laughlin, Nevada, and about 45 minutes southwest of Kingman, Arizona. Check the Oatman Chamber of Commerce web site for further details.
Accommodations near Oatman: Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.
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